When God gives us anything that we wouldn't have chosen, we are faced with the option of seeing it as a gift. A gift of love to draw us closer to Him, a gift of discipline to make us more Christ-like, or a gift of promise for something He is planning on doing in our future. The problem arises when we tell ourselves that we're okay with the gift, trusting in His goodness, but deep down we are lying to ourselves. That right there is the seed of bitterness and it grows in mass proportions, undetected, until you come face to face with a weed right in the middle of what's meant to be your fruitful garden.
"If I idolize a certain season of life, I will drown. I must learn to extract the joy
from each and every season, or I will experience a different kind of death. I can't live
in the past; I can't live in a place of missing the good old days. I need to agree with
Jesus, that while things can be different or even disappointing, there is still life
abundant for me to grab hold of." And Still She Laughs, p.143
When I read The Broken Way and One Thousand Gifts earlier this year, I began to focus on how I could be a gift to others as well as the gifts God gives to me daily. What I didn't even think to do was revisit the gifts of the past that I didn't view as such. The things I focused on as being more loss than gain. Why? Because I longed for the good 'ole days. I was the proverbial high school quarterback that The Boss sings of, reveling in what once was, what I wished still was, and I hoped for in the future. And that line of thinking has robbed me of joy today because I'm yearning too much for yesterday and putting a ton of eggs in a basket labeled tomorrow.
1 Peter 4:10 tells us that we should use whatever gift we have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its varoious forms. Those gifts include the things we didn't ask for but that He thought enough to give us. He meant to entrust us with them because He knew the good that could come from them as we loved others where they are because of where we came from. Not once have I done that. Not. Once. I've been too busy mumbling to myself about what I could do before, what I would try to do today that would only lead to frustration, what I despised others having the ability to do.
But God. Two of the most beautiful words ever strung together. They speak of His intervention, compassion, and undeserved mercy.
But God stepped in and had me read a book I thought would be helpful that He had more plans for than I bargained. But God showed me through another woman's bravery and ability to admit her weakness in a completely different set of circumstances that I had done the exact same thing. But God, rich in grace that He chooses to send my way, opened my eyes to see the tall green stalk with ugly prickly leaves right in front of my face.
So thank you Kate Merrick for sharing your story. Thank you for bravely putting your words on paper to be bound in a book that is going to help countless others see that God's grace can be visible in less than stellar circumstances because He is good and only gives good gifts. Thank you for loving Jesus well and believing all of His promises are true.
We can't go through our lives lamenting what we didn't sign up for. It's not right. Each gift is meant to be used to serve others, even if it's a gift we didn't expect to unwrap. We are supposed to give the comfort we've received but in order to do that we have to be honest enough with God to ask Him to help us accept what we don't like and honest with ourselves to seek Him until peace and joy fully return. We can't afford to miss the grace of God, because when we do, we end up with something we really don't want.